Music scenes never stay the same. But for one night each month at Bleecker Street’s Le Poisson Rouge, music fans rejoice over one of their favorite constants – Macaulay Culkin’s iPod.
The small room began buzzing with energy at 9:45 p.m. last Thursday night. The room darkened and neon-flashing lights were flipped on. Music chosen from the personal music library of actor Macaulay Culkin played via a sound system tucked behind the venue’s mirrored, red-lit bar. Indie rock and contemporary covers of classic jazz and MC Hammer played over the heads of the crowd of plaid-wearing, booze-toting New York youngsters.
When the clock struck ten, emcee Har Mar Superstar hugged his microphone. He told jokes in a deep voice as the crowd warmed up. Then he decided they had waited long enough. He lifted the microphone to his lips and droned, “It’s time to fucking party.”
The first Macaulay Culkin’s iPod took place last December. But heavy turnout soon made it into a monthly event. Still, this particular Thursday night stood out. It was also the gallery opening for Leisure Inferno, a collective art project by 3MB Collective. The collective is comprised of Culkin, Toby Goodshank, and Adam Green. Each member is a child of the 1980s, and the artwork hanging across the bar – of Manhattan circa the days of Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch – maintained a youthful air. The Twin Towers sat in a snow globe held by a figure reminiscent of Star Wars. He-Man sat before a game of Wheel of Fortune. Super Mario was a recurring theme. The paintings were odd, often messy, riddled with warped references to cartoon childhoods.
The pamphlet handed out at the event described the night as “the embracing of the divide in American culture between sloth and frenzy, passive consumption and fanatic hysteria, high-brow and low-brow.” The three artists worked together on the canvases, drawing from separate experiences to create paintings that pull from “the way we process the culture around us.”
I talked to Henry, a recent college graduate who preferred to keep his last name anonymous. He sells Green’s self-produced zines at a small table near the stairs.
“How would you describe the people here?” I asked him.
Henry took stock of the room. “People who are cool, and people who think they’re cool,” he said.
The night soon became a surprise party for Brett, a boyfriend of Culkin’s sister, as well as an employee at the venue. One corner of the room handed out cheesy T-shirts filled with an iron-on planet earth and a young boy growing up Animorphs-style, through a cloud of fire.
Some accepted the shirts and lined up by the door, ready to surprise Brett. But others didn’t. If you are the type of person to accept the shirt, sing “Happy Birthday” to a stranger, and blow party favors, you would have had an amazing time at Macaulay Culkin’s iPod.
The next Macaulay Culkin’s iPod will be October 11 at 10 p.m. Leisure Inferno will be showing at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge from September 13 through December 15.